Jury selection begins in NJ webcam spying case

By GEOFF MULVIHILL

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) - The first phase of jury selection began Friday in the trial of a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate's intimate encounter with another man.

The case sparked a national conversation about the impact of bullying on young gays after the roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in September 2010, days after the intimate encounter.

Dharun Ravi faces 15 charges, including invasion of privacy and hindering prosecution. The most serious charge is bias intimidation, a hate crime punishable by 10 years in prison. The 19-year-old Ravi isn't charged in connection with Clementi's death.

But the suicide looms so large in the case that the judge told jurors about it.

About 2,000 prospective jurors were summoned, but most had conflicts that would prevent them from serving in a trial expected to last three to four weeks.

More than 200 were brought to the Middlesex County Courthouse on Friday to start filling out questionnaires. A few dozen of them were dismissed because of hardships, including one man who said that ÒemotionallyÓ he didn't belong on the jury. He was excused without being asked to explain further.

Lawyers in the case are scheduled to meet Tuesday to go through the surveys and decide which jurors have conflicts or other reasons that make them ineligible. Those remaining are to be brought back on Wednesday for interviews.

It's not clear when the process will be complete and opening arguments will be held.

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Revealing Bigotry: Taking On Gary Glenn

In a Sept. 27 op-ed in the Detroit News, conservative Republican columnist Nolan Finley raised serious concerns about three Republican candidates running for the state house Nov. 4. Todd Courser of Lapeer, Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell and Gary Glenn of Midland -- all correctly identified by Finley as a "trio (who) seeks tea party tyranny." Nolan describes Glenn and Courser as "extremely anti-gay (who) would turn the Republican Party into a fundamentalist denomination of the Christian Church if given the chance." Finley warned that the trio's narrow views on the Legislature could cripple the government and its ability to work across the aisle to move the state forward. Their agenda also includes killing any expansion of the Elliot-Larsen act to include LGBT protections.

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